A South Carolina beach-music festival turns into a horror show for a beleaguered businesswoman.
After a rough welcome to Camellia Beach (Asking For Truffle, 2017), Charity Penn is slowly adjusting to owning Miss Mabel’s famous chocolate shop and acquiring a bunch of relatives who wish she didn’t exist. Penn is certain that Carolina, Miss Mabel Maybank’s missing daughter, is the mother who dumped her on her horrified father, a wealthy college student, when she was a baby. Penn’s trust fund is difficult to access, and only a single relative in the Penn family, her half sister, Tina, loves her—which is one more than she can find among the Maybanks, who are contesting their mother’s will, hoping to reclaim the store. Though it all, Penn is learning to make truffles with the help of Bertie, Miss Mabel’s friend and assistant. Tina’s managed to get famous rock star Bixby Lewis to play at the Summer Solstice Beach Music Festival, which Penn is charged with making a success. Along with his star power, Bixby brings some unfortunate baggage in the form of Candy, a crazed fan who throws a rock through Penn’s shop window. Bubba Crowley and Stan Frasier, who both had popular beach bands 40 years ago, almost get into a fistfight, and when Stan ends up dead, Bubba is a likely suspect. More dangerous pranks force Penn to keep her glazier on speed dial. Bertie is acting strangely, and Mabel’s middle daughter, Florence, suddenly confesses that she’s Penn’s mother, an admission Penn can’t quite believe. With thousands of Carolina Shag dancers and beach music fans on hand, Penn, despite dire warnings from the police, can’t help but put herself in danger investigating a crime whose roots may be deep in the past.
The heroine has enough problems to fill several books. But this one has a neat mystery, a touch of romance, and a real feel for the Carolina shagging lifestyle.